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Gathering Background Information
Components of a Proposal
The Executive Summary
The Statement of Need
The Project Description
The Budget
Organizational Information
Letter Proposal
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Proposal Writing Short Course

The Project Description

This section of your proposal should have five subsections: objectives, methods, staffing/administration, evaluation, and sustainability. Together, objectives and methods dictate staffing and administrative requirements. They then become the focus of the evaluation to assess the results of the project. The project's sustainability flows directly from its success, hence its ability to attract other support. Taken together, the five subsections present an interlocking picture of the total project.

Objectives are the measurable outcomes of the program. They define your methods. Your objectives must be tangible, specific, concrete, measurable, and achievable in a specified time period. Grantseekers often confuse objectives with goals, which are conceptual and more abstract. For the purpose of illustration, here is the goal of a project with a subsidiary objective:

Goal: Our after-school program will help children read better.

Objective: Our after-school remedial education program will assist 50 children in improving their reading scores by one grade level as demonstrated by standardized reading tests administered after participating in the program for six months.

The goal in this case is abstract: improving reading, while the objective is much more specific. It is achievable in the short term (six months) and measurable (improving 50 children's reading scores by one grade level).

With competition for dollars so great, well-articulated objectives are increasingly critical to a proposal's success.

Using a different example, there are at least four types of objectives:

  1. Behavioral - A human action is anticipated.

    Example: Fifty of the 70 children participating will learn to swim.

  2. Performance - A specific time frame within which a behavior will occur, at an expected proficiency level, is expected.

    Example: Fifty of the 70 children will learn to swim within six months and will pass a basic swimming proficiency test administered by a Red Cross-certified lifeguard.

  3. Process - The manner in which something occurs is an end in itself.

    Example: We will document the teaching methods utilized, identifying those with the greatest success.

  4. Product - A tangible item results.

    Example: A manual will be created to be used in teaching swimming to this age and proficiency group in the future.

In any given proposal, you will find yourself setting forth one or more of these types of objectives, depending on the nature of your project. Be certain to present the objectives very clearly. Make sure that they do not become lost in verbiage and that they stand out on the page. You might, for example, use numbers, bullets, or indentations to denote the objectives in the text. Above all, be realistic in setting objectives. Don't promise what you can't deliver. Remember, the funder will want to be told in the final report that the project actually accomplished these objectives.
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